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Mold. Whether black, green, orange, or some other color in the spectrum, it’s never a pleasant sight.
Visible mold can have you running for a remediation specialist but the effects of mold can be felt even when it’s not visible – including allergies, coughing, sore throat or respiratory ailments.
Mold can arise from a variety of sources, from water damage to old food, wet paint and excessive moisture and it can stick around even after you think it’s been cleaned up. Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of mold is how resistant it can be and how quietly it can slip under the radar and out of view until it becomes a bigger problem than you might expect.
The good news is that with the right inspection and remediation team you can tackle the problem at its core and ensure that your space is mold-free – and stays that way.
When it comes to mold inspection and remediation, there is no federal, state or local regulation, which means that it’s much easier to ignore an issue with mold even when it’s suspected.
But a neglected mold issue can easily turn into a gigantic headache because mold can spread quickly and root deeply, making removal more invasive, time consuming and ultimately expensive.
By the time you see visible mold it may already be too late, which is why it’s important to be aware of other signs of mold.
On the visible spectrum, if you see water damage, even if you don’t see water, it may be a good time to get an inspection done. Those dirty-ringed water spots on walls or ceilings, even after they appear dry, can indicate a deeper issue.
Less visible are the health effects of mold which can also disguise themselves as common, everyday ailments that most of us ignore – stuffy noses, scratchy throats, even sneezing.
But if these health effects occur systematically and regularly in certain areas of a building or space, then that’s a good sign that there’s more to it than something fleeting or seasonal.
On the more serious side, mold can exacerbate asthma and cause other respiratory problems. If people begin to complain of breathing issues then it’s more likely that the air quality in your building has been seriously compromised.
These are all signs that it’s time to call someone in for an inspection. Don’t delay – mold doesn’t just disappear on its own and you’ll want help conducting an effective cleanup.
If you see what appears to be mold, an inspector should always begin by determining whether your problem is really mold.
After all, you don’t want to go through the hassle and expense of mold remediation for the more benign concerns of soot, mineral deposits or rust, all of which can be mistaken visually for mold.
When mold is suspected, an inspector will take surface samples with a swab to test and identify whether the substance is, in fact, mold.
If it’s determined to be mold, the next step is to determine its type, which can vary from relatively benign strains to highly toxic black varieties.
Surface tests are non-invasive and non-destructive and should be taken as a first step in identifying the problem and mapping out next steps.
When no mold is visible in an area that is the source of complaints about respiratory problems, air samples should be taken to test the air quality. A good inspection will compare indoor air quality to outdoor air quality to test for consistency. Elevated mold levels on the interior compared to the exterior is a sign that you’ve got an invisible problem, which means an inspection will need to dig deeper to uncover its roots.
A thorough visual inspection can not only help to spot troublesome mold but it can also identify mold’s likely breeding grounds.
There are a number of culprits when it comes to mold and each of these should be visually inspected. Drainage locations around the exterior of a building, roof vents and dislodged flashing, basements, bathrooms, kitchens and ductwork should all be on the list.
Inspections should include walls, ceilings, closets and carpets, all of which can harbor mold, both seen and unseen.
Sometimes mold can hide out of view. When visual and surface tests fail, a last option is destructive testing, in which layers of a structure are removed and tested until a source is found.
But even destructive testing doesn’t have to be a nightmare if it’s done properly. Mold likes to hide in certain dark, moist spots, such as behind walls and in crawl spaces. An inspector can carefully and strategically remove part of a wall, ceiling or floor space to inspect beneath, minimizing destructive effects and building upon an inspection until the source and the extent of the problem is found.
It’s important to conduct destructive inspections with extreme care, not only from the standpoint of protecting a building structure but to protect the people around it. Careless destructive testing can stir up dangerous levels of airborne mold and bacteria so it should only be done by a seasoned professional with precautions for containment and air quality control.
You’ve confirmed that there’s mold in your building. The visual, surface or other means of inspection has most certainly identified that this persistent fungus is affecting your space. Now what?
Unfortunately, simply cleaning up a patch of mold won’t necessarily solve the problem. You’ve got to get to the source of the problem and eliminate it, and sometimes that’s easier said than done.
In some situations – where old paint has been left improperly sealed or food has been left unheeded, you may easily be able to remove those breeding grounds, clean up the mold, and with more care in the future, prevent the problem from recurring.
However, in areas of poor drainage, damp basements, water leaks or other systemic issues, mold will return unless the conditions in which it thrives are eliminated. That may mean tearing down and resealing walls or roofing, repairing damaged ductwork or plumbing, or otherwise correcting and eliminating the source of the problem.
Remember, the goal of mold remediation is not just to put it “out of sight out of mind”. It’s to cut the mold problem out at its roots so that the health and safety of your building is restored. A quality inspection can help you identify the root cause of mold so that a good plan can be built around its removal and it can be addressed effectively during remediation.
Mold can be persistent and cause a multitude of problems, from the cosmetically ugly splotches we’re all familiar with to more serious health conditions. If you see mold or find yourself fielding complaints about air quality, start with a good inspection as your first line of defense. It will provide the right foundation for a remediation plan and a positive result.
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